We were asked what we thought about plans to
run down services at the Lagan
Valley Hospital - well here's our answer
by JULIE ANN SPENCE
Jeffrey Donaldson, The Mayor,
Councillor Ronnie Crawford and
Chairman of the Corporate
Services Committee, Councillor
Paul Givan, hand over the
petition to Health Minister, Mr
WHEN the South Eastern Trust published their
controversial proposals to close maternity services at the Lagan
Valley Hospital they asked what local people thought.
This week they got their answer when a
petition signed by over 21,000 people was handed over to Health
Minister Michael McGimpsey.
The will of the people was clearly conveyed
to the Health Minister by representatives from Lisburn City
Council, who presented him with a petition - organised by the
Ulster Star and Lisburn Council and signed by over 21,000 people
protesting at plans to downgrade and cut services at the Lisburn
Mayor, Councillor Ronnie Crawford, Chairman of the Council's
Corporate Services Committee, Councillor Paul Givan and Lagan
Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson met with Minister Michael McGimpsey
to seek a commitment that the views of local people would be
listened to and that expectant mothers in Lisburn would be
assured of a full local maternity service. Speaking after the
meeting, Mr Donaldson said the response from the Minister had
been "positive" but warned the battle to 'Save Our Services' is
far from over.
"The Minister was positive in his response
about the prospects for at least a midwife lead maternity unit
being provided for Lisburn," said Mr Donaldson. "This
our campaign is working and the Health
authorities are recognising the strength of people power in
fighting to save these vital services.
The Minister also confirmed he is now working
with the South Eastern Trust to provide a major investment of
some £60 million to upgrade medical facilities on the Lagan
"This would undoubtedly help to secure the
future of the hospital as a modern primary care facility with
new operating theatres and equipment to celiver vital surgical
and medical services for the local community. "The support of
the community has been crucial in our campaign to secure the
future of the Lagan Valley Hospital. However, whilst much
progress has been made, we must not be complacent as this battle
is not yet over," he warned.
"We must keep the pressure on both the
Department and the Trust until such times as the final decisions
are made and the future of our local hospital is assured."
During the meeting the Minister pledged that
the views of all those involved would be taken into account in
developing a way forward.
"The plans to drastically cut services at the
Lagan Valley Hospital have been criticised by all sections of
the community, all political representatives and perhaps most
importantly the experts in this area, The Royal College of
Midwives," added Councillor Paul Givan.
"The campaign is working and there are
already indications that alternative proposals will be
considered and we will continue to do all in our power to ensure
that the future of Lagan Valley Hospital is secure."
The Save Our Services Campaign, which was
launched earlier this year by The Star and Lisburn Council, has
seen thousands of residents, businesses, community groups and
medical professionals condemn the proposals by the South Eastern
Trust for the Lagan Valley Hospital.